Back in the day, people who needed a tooth removed had to endure quite the ordeal. Think pliers, arm fastenings, and no anesthesia!
Fortunately, the tides have shifted. Thanks to advances in dentistry, modern tooth extractions are far less disruptive than they used to be. But it’s still a surgical process, which means you’ll have to pay close attention to your oral health until the wound is healed.
Under normal circumstances, you should need about one to two weeks to recover from a dental extraction. But with the right aftercare regime, you can speed up the process and get back to your normal routine in no time. Here are six tips to follow for a quick recovery post-extraction.
- Eat Soft Foods
Proper nutrition is crucial to a hasty recovery. A nutrient-packed diet reduces the risk of complications and aids in wound healing.
In this regard, remember that hard, crunchy, or chewy foods are a strict no-no after a dental extraction. Instead, you should stick to a soft food diet to avoid damaging the tissue around your surgical wound.
For the first 2-3 days, eat only liquid foods, such as applesauce, yogurt, mashed potatoes, broths, blended soups, puddings, and ice cream. Be sure to balance out the high-sugar options with more nutrient-rich items.
Once the wound starts closing, you can consume semisoft foods like scrambled eggs and oatmeal before moving on to meats, fruits, and vegetables.
It’s also worth noting that several foods are off-limits during the recovery period, including:
- Spicy foods
- Grains and seeds that can get trapped in the wound
- Alcohol (alcoholic drinks can interact with the prescribed medication and slow down clotting)
- Steer Clear of Straws and Smoking
When you drink through straws or smoke, it creates a negative pressure in your mouth, which can dislodge the blood clot from the tooth socket and expose the underlying bone/nerves. This, in turn, may lead to a painful condition known as dry socket.
Hence, it’s best if you stop smoking while recovering from a dental extraction. Chemicals in tobacco smoke can jeopardize the wound healing process, causing serious complications down the line. Also, sip small amounts of drinks at body temperature to avoid affecting the surgical site.
- Use an Ice Pack
Anyone who has dealt with post-surgical swelling knows how uncomfortable it can be. However, it’s your body’s natural response to injuries. Inflammation is the first step of the recovery process, during which the body sends repair cells to fix the wound.
Truth be told, it is difficult to predict exactly how much swelling you’ll experience after a surgical procedure. But you can use cold therapy to keep it in check. Besides reducing swelling, cold therapy can also numb the wound and reduce tenderness.
To begin with, try applying an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Repeat the process as many times as you need to alleviate any pain or discomfort.
- Don’t Irritate the Wound
Your mouth may feel weird following a dental extraction, especially if you’re not used to having any gaps in there. But you must avoid poking or feeling the surgical wound with your tongue or, even worse, your fingers. Here’s why.
Small pricks and touches can dislodge the blood clot on the wound and initiate new bleeding. Perhaps more alarmingly, touching the surgical site with your fingers can lead to serious bacterial growth and delay the recovery process further.
- Take Care of Your Oral Hygiene
While you cannot brush or floss the extraction site immediately after the procedure, this isn’t a cue for you to neglect your oral health altogether. The more you let food and bacteria build up inside your mouth, the higher your risk of getting an infection.
To prevent this, gently rinse your mouth with saline water after every meal to get rid of any debris. Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwashes: alcohol can easily irritate and open up your wound all over again. And, remember to clean the rest of your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, or as per your dentist’s orders.
- Rest Well
Needless to say, it’s important to get adequate rest after tooth extraction. Since you’ll probably be sedated, be sure to have someone drive you home from the clinic. If possible, take a few days off work. Try not to bend over and lift heavy objects, as this can increase the blood pressure inside your head and induce bleeding. Steer clear of strenuous activity for most of the recovery period.
Generally speaking, tooth extraction sites need a while to heal. But with the right aftercare, you’ll be able to speed up the recovery process effectively. In case your symptoms worsen after dental extraction, consult your dentist without delay.
At Claremont Dental Arts, we specialize in multiple dental procedures, including tooth extractions, sedation dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and so on. Our team is committed to looking after your smile and ensuring you get quality oral care. To book your appointment, call us today!